Sylvia Sky, astrologer, Tarot reader, and gemstone enthusiast, is a widely published author of books and articles about spiritual matters.
The Elite Kept Its Secrets
Cannabis sativa or marijuana, the most psychoactive of the three types of hemp plants, has been used in religion and magic as far back as civilization reaches. A Chinese emperor used it medicinally in 2700 B.C. Ancient kings and nobles were buried with this sacred plant. An Egyptian goddess carving shows her waving a hemp leaf. The Oracle at Delphi inhaled sacred smoke before revealing the future to rulers and generals.
Elites and priests or shamans who used marijuana for ritual or religious purposes, or for healing, tried to keep it out of the hands of common people. It allowed them to access what they believed were higher states of mind or spirit. It eased royal births and helped epileptics; it was too magical to share.
Of course the common people found it anyway, growing hemp of the industrial kind and then discovering and cultivating the more potent kind. In 1484 enough Europeans used it ritually so that Pope Innocent VIII called cannabis an “unholy sacrament” and linked it with witchcraft, punishable by death.
Usage has been restricted not only by law but by moral codes and religious teachings saying that intoxication of any kind is unholy: Some faiths forbid the use of cannabis. In others its use is debatable. Most now say that medicinal use is not sinful, but other uses are.
Ritual Use Doesn't Require Ingestion
Occult Uses and Folklore
Spiritual seekers have used and prized all types of herbs, including cannabis. One need not ingest it to reap its folkloric benefits.
Traditionally, a believer may wrap a bud in a purple cloth and carry it for romantic luck or money luck. Or a bud beneath their pillow would inspire a dream about their future spouse. On Halloween night, toss hemp seeds, any kind, over your head, backwards, into a field, and when you turn around, expect a vision of your true love to spring up like a plant. Cannabis is a particularly fragrant form of incense to burn before and during rituals and worship. Hemp oil, a healing potion, is so neutral it is also used as a carrier oil for rarer essential oils.
Herbal smoke is used by almost all faiths to call on or align with divinity, or clear a space for it. The word for psychoactive substances used specifically for worship is “entheogenic.” Central American shamans and Rastafarians use marijuana to approach God, and it is legal for them as a religious tradition. The Rastafarians refer to the verse in the Bible’s Book of Revelations, 22:2, about the tree of life: and “the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (KJV). Cannabis was sacred to the gods Ra, Isis, Pan, Dionysus, Shiva, Venus and Freya, and probably many more. These are the gods of pleasure and abandon, and pot’s aphrodisiac qualities are well known.
Lesser known is that chronic use disrupts the human endocrine system, reducing estrogen in women and testosterone in men, and that it has negative effects on short-term memory. (Surprised?) Like many herbs, it is a drug that acts not only on the spirit but on the body and brain, and the young and those taking prescription medication should beware of the possible side effects and avoid it without a physician's okay.
Novice magick practitioners should be advised by their mentors that intoxicants of any kind are never necessary. All the glories and powers of the human spirit are already within. Marijuana ingestion can increase the heart rate, or cause a hangover or headache.
The ancients and shamans knew that cannabis is not for everyone, or for every occasion, and that is still true.
Today’s “weed witches” ritually roll their own marijuana cigarette, for themselves or to share with peers. With non-toxic ink they might draw a sigil or sacred symbol on the cigarette paper before rolling. The burning will activate the sigil or symbol. Witches might blend the pot leaves with smoke-able herbs such as cloves or mint. (The leaves of some herbs are deadly if smoked or ingested; never try to burn them without consulting an herbalist.) Ideally, one lights the ritual cigarette with a candle, preferably a white one, and when the ritual is complete that candle's flame should be snuffed, never blown out, because that will blow away the intention.
Marijuana is called a multi-purpose sacred herb. Those using it for magick can “program” their marijuana with intentions, just as they would program a crystal. Like clear quartz, marijuana is said to magickally “amplify” intentions and prayers. Quartz and other crystalline minerals are carved into pipes for ritual smoking, with different minerals for different intentions.
Some honor full moons or moon gods by burning marijuana outdoors, monthly, in the moonlight. Most often ritual cannabis smoke has been used as an aid to meditation. The desired effect -- rather than intoxication -- is focus.
Pot’s ritual use at funerals goes back at least to the Scythians, early northern Europeans who grew hemp and harvested it with the implement still called a “scythe.” Marijuana was supposed to help relieve grief and sorrow. Its effect on moods is always temporary.
A Single Plant
Marijuana and the Zodiac
The zodiac signs said to govern marijuana use are Gemini and Capricorn. Why these signs are appropriate is not clear, but Gemini is a very extroverted sign and Capricorn an introverted one, and marijuana, like alcohol, is often used as a social lubricant as well as for the solitary act of meditation or personal pain relief.
Because marijuana is a drug and a medicine, its governing planet ought to be Neptune, the planetary ruler of all drugs and drug use. But tradition assigns to cannabis the governing planets Venus and Jupiter, the friendliest and most benevolent of the seven classical planets. (Neptune was not discovered until 1846.)
Natal horoscopes that show Neptune in opposition to the natal Sun, or square to it, indicate a tendency for the individual to become substance dependent. Those with this aspect in their birth charts should be wary of all intoxicants.
Reasons Not to Use It Ritually
Warnings: Impairment and Legal Troubles
Marijuana is not addictive like tobacco, but it can become a habit (one of its nicknames is “the chronic”) and interfere quite seriously with brain function and bumps up heart rhythms for up to three hours after use. Sacred and magickal uses are still legally classified as recreational, and recreational marijuana is in most places against the law, although in the U.S. that is rapidly changing.
Traces of the active ingredient THC persist in the body and can be identified with drug testing months later -- and despite claims to the contrary, no herbal mixture or chemical is able to purge the evidence.
Canada has recently legalized marijuana. U.S. voters have been favoring medical marijuana availability in their home states. It will become common. It’s also a strong drug. Someone who is “buzzed” on marijuana, whether smoked, eaten, made into tea, or infused into a transdermal patch, should not drive or operate machinery. Like sacred wine, or hard-liquor “spirits,” it is a mind-altering substance affecting brain function and other body systems. As much as we wish to enhance our inner lives and perspectives, or honor traditions, in large quantities or used habitually even "natural" intoxicants can affect the body for the worse.
And where the magickal use of cannabis is illegal, your body can go to jail.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Sylvia Sky